This game is for groups of at least two. Pair off. Blindfold your partner and lead them through the forest to any tree that attracts you. (How far will depend on your partner’s age and orientation ability. For all but very young children, a distance of 20-30 yards usually isn’t too far.)
Help the blindfolded child to explore the chosen tree and to feel its uniqueness. I find that specific suggestions are best. For example, if you tell children to “Feel the tree”, they won’t respond with as much interest as if you say, “Rub your cheek on the bark.” Instead of, “Explore your tree,” be specific: “Is this tree alive?... Can you put your arms around it? ... Is the tree older than you are? ... Can you find plants growing on it? ... Animal signs? ... Lichens?”
When your partner has finished exploring, lead them back to where you began, but take an indirect route. Now, remove the blindfold and let the child try to find the tree with eyes open. Suddenly, as the child searches for his tree, what was a forest becomes a collection of very individual trees.
A tree can be an unforgettable experience in a child’s life. Many times children have come back to me a year after we played Meet a Tree, and have literally dragged me out to the forest to say, “See! Here’s my tree!”
Extracted from the book Sharing Nature with Children by Joseph Cornell, published by Words of Discovery.
Photo by Allan Mas
First published in issue 1 of JUNO. Accurate at the time this issue went to print.